Despite its reputation as a maker of button-down business laptops, Lenovo can always be counted on to produce a couple of intriguing concept pieces at CES every year, such as the IdeaPad Yoga.
This image shows the Yoga in "tent mode".
This Windows 8 prototype laptop is described as "the industry's first multimode notebook with a 360-degree flip-and-fold design." A 13.3-inch touchscreen laptop, the Yoga is a thin, light laptop, but perhaps not quite an ultrabook. It's 16.9mm thick and weighs 3.1 pounds.
The name Yoga in part gives away the system's big selling point; that the display flips fully over to become a tablet. In fact, it has four usable positions, which Lenovo calls notebook, tablet, stand and tent.
Here, you can see the Yoga in the more traditional "notebook mode".
Lenovo says that the combination of a traditional laptop design and a tablet makes the Yoga ideal for both content creation and consumption. The 13-inch display has a 1600x900-pixel native resolution, and 10-point capacitive touchscreen.
We've seen similar ideas for years in what are called convertible laptops, which have a rotating centre hinge to swivel into both laptop and tablet forms. The problem with those, traditionally, has been that the single centre rotating hinge was a potential weak point in the design. Lenovo says that the Yoga's full-length hinge has been rigorously tested, and is stronger than the older rotating convertible design.
When flipping the Yoga's screen back, the physical keyboard doesn't disappear from view, as in the case of a convertible laptop/tablet, but it does get automatically disabled, instead activating an onscreen keyboard. A slightly raised layer of leather over the wrist rest and keyboard tray lets you rest the tablet on a table, keyboard side down, without worrying too much about damaging the keys. Some buttons have been repositioned to the sides for access no matter how the system is folded, and the outer shell has a soft-touch coating for easy gripping.
The IdeaPad Yoga is designed for Windows 8, so we won't be seeing it in stores any time soon — it's expected in the second half of 2012, with an estimated starting price of US$1199. The system will run Intel's Ivy Bridge Core i-series CPUs, with up to 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, and Lenovo says it should get 8 hours of battery life.